Facing lawsuit from Arizona attorney general, Cochise County supervisors hire outside attorney

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors will hire an outside attorney to defend them against a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office that seeks to block the county from consolidating nearly all of the election duties under the county recorder.

The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Kris Mayes named Supervisors Peggy Judd, Tom Crosby and Ann English as defendants, as well as County Recorder David Stevens, and claims the board does not have the legal power to hand over election duties to another elected office.

During an emergency meeting in Bisbee on Wednesday, the board voted 2-1 to hire outside legal counsel, with Republican supervisors Judd and Crosby voting in favor and English, the lone Democrat, voting against the move.

The county plans to hire Phoenix-based attorney Timothy La Sota, although questions remain about where the money to pay him will come from. La Sota has previously represented Republican candidates, including attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh and gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, along with various state and county government offices.

The board met with the county attorney in a closed-door session before the vote at the emergency meeting.

Mayes’ lawsuit states that the County Attorney’s Office agrees with the attorney general’s position, which led the board to seek outside counsel, English said.

Related story:Cochise County recorder to run elections, raising concerns about illegal practices

County proceeding with election plans

Wednesday’s meeting came just about two months before a scheduled special election May 16 on an excise tax for a jail district in Cochise County.

Despite the lawsuit, and questions about who is in charge of the Elections Department, the county will go ahead with preparations for the election, according to county spokesperson Jane Montgomery.

“At the moment we are working on the assumption that we will proceed,” she said.

The decision to hand election duties to the recorder came at a Feb. 28 meeting, where Crosby and Judd voted to approve the move while English voted against it.

Stevens was to replace former elections director Lisa Marra, who resigned earlier this year citing threats and harassment from the two Republican supervisors and community members.

Marra had objected to a controversial full hand count of all ballots in the November election that was passed by the supervisors. Stevens was willing to carry out the hand count.

The hand count was blocked by a court ruling.

Coverage of southern Arizona on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is funded by the nonprofit Report for America in association with The Republic.

Reach the reporter at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Cochise County supervisors hire attorney to defend elections lawsuit

Related Posts